Recovery from the Clown Horror was slow and painful.
I decided to lie low for a few weeks and not think of dating. With such cads on the Glasgow scene, is any woman safe? I deleted my dating profile, made some tea, curled up on the couch, and thought of clowns.
Oh, nuts to this! I need to get back out there. So I whipped out my debit card and signed up to a new dating site. The ‘upmarket’ one had brought me clowns, loons and other buffoons, so let’s go slumming…
This new site had far more men. The upmarket one gave me 53 matches who fitted my search criteria. This one threw me a whopping 987. However, it was definitely quantity at the expense of quality: many of these men couldn’t spell. In fact, a lot of them seemed to be engaged in an active and bitter campaign against the English language.
Another unsettling feature of this new site was the photographs. No matter what positive blurb is quoted about how you must write a sparkling profile outlining your wholesome hobbies bla bla bla, everything depends on your photos. It’s as simple as that.
For a female, nice pictures will get responses. Fat pictures won’t. Harsh but true. So, the women, quite rightly, take great care over what pictures they upload. Indeed, most of my time goes on selecting pictures which don’t emphasise what my dad calls my ‘baw jaws’.
The men, however, have no such qualms about photos and can be divided into five camps:
1. Pictures of them engaged in sports or standing in the surf, hands on hips.
2. Pictures simply of scenery and mountains. I suppose this suggests ‘I am well-travelled, hence rich’ and’ I am active, hence not a Britain’s Got Talent-watching chubster’.
3. Pictures of them with other women. The thinking here seems to be ‘Look! Look! I had a girlfriend once! No, really! I did.’ Seriously though, to include a photo with a girl is just creepy, but not as creepy as…
4. Pictures of them with another woman but – being chivalrous – they have lovingly blanked out her face. Then we sink even further to…
5. Those who include their own wedding photo – with the bride’s face physically scratched out.
So, here I am, back at square one, battle-scarred and weary, assessing a whole new batch of men. My friend, Mhairi, pleaded with me to try a nice, normal man. ‘Keep away from the freaks this time,’ she urged.
I shook my head. ‘I need a freak though.’
‘But why? Look what happened with that Clown. He was a total dick. That’s what you get with these men who are so over-the-top and totally up their own arses.’
‘Yes, but he was never dull. Never boring.’
‘And he was never honest. Never decent.’
I admitted this was a good point, but the fact remains that I’m always going to fall for the big eccentric galoot over the decent sensible chap who works in a call centre.
‘See,’ said Mhairi, ‘you judge men by what they do, not who they are. The first thing you tell us about your dates is: ‘Oooooh, he’s a clown’ or ‘ahhhh, he’s a comedian’. Never: ‘He’s kind, he’s funny, we have stuff in common.’ You need to stop hunting for someone with the label of ‘big mad eccentric guy’ and just find someone you like for who they are.’
‘But I did like the clown for who he was.’
‘Yes, but would you have put up with all his crap if he’d been a bin man?
She makes a good point.
‘Think of it,’ she went on. ‘Would you have come bouncing into work, all mad and excited, to go ‘I’ve got a date with this big ginger bin man! He keeps cancelling our dates and mucking me about but – oh – he’s busy collecting the bins, and he needs to go home for a bath, and he’s due a tetanus jag, so he can’t see me. Oh I just love that bin man!’’
‘Right, you’ve made your point,’ I said.
‘Let that be a test they need to pass. Next time you fall head over heels for an acrobat or astronaut or whatever, just think ‘would I still feel this way if he was a bin man?’
She’s right. I do go for men who are outlandish and extra-ordinary but that’s because they have something I want: they have a vitality to them which I severely lack and desperately want. I used to have it, then I got knocked off my perch by a severe depression and lost it.
So maybe I’m a vampire and want to suck the life-force from these juggling freaks? It’s maybe easier than recovering and creating an extra-ordinary life for myself.
‘Just get yourself someone normal,’ said Mhairi.
Normal, pah! What would I do with a normal man? More to the point, what would a normal man do with me? No, I fear I shall be drawn to the freaks on this site, just as I was on the other. So let’s see what I have in my inbox.
The first was a doctor who listed his interests as ‘my convertible, my riding crop and foxes’.
I also had an e-mail from a man called ‘Flock_of_Skunks’ who was an arts practitioner at Barlinnie Prison. He spends his days doing origami and mime with the cons.
The third was from a nice, gentle-looking chap who was a veterinary pathologist. Oh this is funny! Does he investigate hamster homicides? Does Taggart phone him from the pet shop to say ‘there’s been a murrrrder’?
The last was from a guy who was in an amateur dramatics company. He had included photos of himself on stage at the King's Theatre in Glasgow in various plays and musicals.
I decided to reply to the actor guy. He was perhaps a bit old for me (he was 48) and was dangerously close to clown territory in that he was involved in theatre. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
And, yes, I also replied to the foxy doctor. I’ll come to regret this, I thought, as I clicked ‘send...’
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